Olive Oil, The Backbone of Flavors for This Traditional Chicken, Bean, and Vegetable SoupChicken / November 6, 2023
I’ve been developing recipes for Olive This! for a long time now and have experimented with much of their product line. Turning out some fun menus. And I continue to be inspired by their quality, taste, and imaginative selection. But there’s something I believe the home cook is missing when learning how to use their product, and that was to take something familiar and use a key ingredient in a more intrinsic and foundational way. Let me explain.
I present this lovely chicken soup. This recipe may seem familiar, chicken soup always does. But in this case I have chosen a robust and fresh oil, the Olive This! Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil and made it the “backbone” of the whole recipe; one that all other ingredients get their character from. If you want proof oil makes a difference, I would make the same soup with 4 different basic but different cooking oils because it is then you would taste the absolute difference in each one. Yes, even in chicken soup!
I submit that many of you choose a basic oil by thinking, “I want something mild, so the other flavors are not masked.” But I say, choose one that knows its identity, so that it imparts its essence throughout the entire dish and elevates everything. In this case I wanted a carrot to taste like the best carrot EVER. I wanted to encourage the aromatic base of the broth to sing with complexity by sweating the mirepoix (carrot, onion, and celery) in generous amounts of it! That’s what I’m working to showcase with this recipe.
How can chicken soup transcend our assumptions about flavor and recipe building? We tend to look at ingredients in a recipe as though they all have an equal job, lining up ingredients like dominoes. The fact of the matter is recipes are built by chemistry, not a checklist. Each element plays a role in building another element depending upon their role. And few things are more important than an oil because it emulsifies and creates a seamless introduction to a set of flavors. Resulting in an experience that feel curated, not thrown together.
How did it come together? I started with a really generous glug of the oil. Heated to shimmering in a stock pan. And then added the compensatory carrot, onion, and celery mixture; 1 cup of each. After sweating them I added 4 C of plain chicken stock, salt and pepper, oregano, coriander, and garlic salt. Then let it gently simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes. From there I added 2 cans of Northern White Beans, with their liquid. And a small handful of fresh parsley. I let that come to heat fully and added 3 cups of pulled roasted chicken white meat, stirring the mixture only until the chicken is hot. At the end I added another huge drizzle of oil and served it in a deep bowl and a nice large spoon, with another flourish of parsley.
So danged sophisticated. So danged simple. So immensely unique. And so vital to your journey to becoming an intuitive and masterful cook!